Perturbator: Dangerous Days- I had a thought unrelated to this review that I think applies. The majority of ‘artists’ are really just filler. They’re marginally good enough in talent or technical ability to be on the radio or known in their sphere of influence but don’t really contribute anything truly creative nor do they innovate. You only hear new stuff from them when a new sample pack comes out or the software they use gets an upgrade. They just exist to take some pressure off of the true creators; elevator tunes in between floors. Then there are guys like Perturbator.
Admittedly I’ve been a fan of Perturbator since the first day synthwave entered my life so I was very excited to be able to review his work and yes, I had high expectations. Dangerous Days is an absolute clinic of how synthwave should be done and how to do it well. It’s an intense sci-fi outrun full of ear pleasing melodies, satisfying progressions, and coy nods to some of our favorite bits of retro futurism.
‘Welcome Back’ and ‘Perturbator’s Theme’ are both intro and opening tracks that sort of blend into one aggressive outrun track. Nothing mindblowing just yet, but this is just Perturbator cracking his knuckles and taking a few breaths. ‘Raw Power’ is a glitchy, 8-bit descent into violence and madness that reminds us that video arcades used to be dangerous dens of gambling, drugs and murder, if Robocop 2, Deathwish or The Lost Boys are to be believed. ‘Future Club’ achieves a sound Daft Punk could come up with if they took off the helmets and put on death masks. It’s dark, it’s catchy, and it layers synths that dance very suggestively with each other.
‘War Against Machines’ is a nod to probably the greatest action movie theme ever, but ‘Hard Wired’ is where Dangerous Days reaches its most gorgeous peak. This is a slow, deep synth cruise that features haunting vocals. Yet there are fantastic and whimsical qualities to the track. It’s a darkly sweet love theme, a cascade of stars falling along a nuclear skyline. While that may be my favorite, and perhaps best, track on the album, ‘She is Young, She is Beautiful, She is Next’ and ‘Humans Are Such Easy Prey’ feature all the things I love about Perturbator. There are aggressive drum arrangements, interesting progressions, glitched moments, tempo shifts and quick melodies but also a lot of little things too. Whether Perturbator drops a pad or instrument for a brief moment of peace for a measure, throws in a different snare, or compliments his synth work with a guitar riff or vice versa, there’s an attention to detail here that I’m so impressed with. Perturbator approaches his work like an absinthe maddened composer, seeing and hearing and feeling a galaxy of things all at once and frantically working to capture his vision before it fades. That’s exactly how I would describe Dangerous Days.
The album ends with its title track, which is a twelve minute synth symphony that recalls the days when EDM tracks were considered short if they were less than six minutes. This is an exploration of many themes and it could easily be broken up into several stand alone tracks, but I choose to think of it as the score to a short sci-fi film. Perturbator does have the chops to score a film, or anything for that matter, so I plan on looking for his name in the credits when they decide to make a movie based on Contra or a sequel to Far Cry: Blood Dragon. Dangerous Days is many things: a dark vision of the future, a drive into the very heart of malice, a madman’s scratchings into the wall of synth. But it is also a love letter and a true compositional masterpiece. Now I imagine Perturbator will rest and recharge, and search for new inspiration in a closet of old skeletons, perhaps. Until next he decides to call out to the creatures of the night and lay fingers on keys again, I suppose I’ll have to occupy my time with the ever present filler…10/10
‘She is Young, She is Beautiful, She is Next’